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Jack Docherty at the Edinburgh Fringe review: a vivid, very personal tribute to David Bowie

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If you drew a Venn diagram featuring David Bowie and comedian Jack Docherty you would not expect much overlap. But Docherty might disagree with you. For the former chat show host and star of sitcom Scot Squad the links are so strong he has written this extremely enjoyable piece about his connection with late, great starman.

From the moment Docherty struts on draped in a white cape with Japanese lettering, he puts everything into his performance. His love for the ever-changing icon is never in doubt even if it started out on a budget. His outfit was made by his mum from curtain material when he was 13 rather than by Bowie’s favoured designer Yamamoto.

But there is another love in his life too. Parallel Lives intertwines Docherty’s memories of adoring Bowie and eventually meeting him, with his coming-of-age teenage pursuit of posh Eleanor. He did everything to win her over, resorting to petty crime at one point to obtain a precious Ziggy sticker to woo her.

The comedian and actor has great fun revisiting his rough and tumble 1970s schooldays. It was an era, he jokes, when the timetable consisted of maths, physics and bullying. He paints a vivid portrait of his grandfather, who was so curmudgeonly he even envied the neighbour’s gravel.

Bowie weaves in and out of the narrative like a spectral presence, with brief clips projected onto an onstage screen. The music is, of course, as mesmerising as one would imagine. Only snatches are played, leaving you wanting more. This is a show that should come with a Spotify playlist.

Docherty finally met Bowie when he guested on his 1990s TV chat show. We are tantalised by a brief glimpse, but he fondly recalls their backstage chat. Bowie stayed for hours, smoking, gossiping and predicting how big a newfangled thing called the internet would be.

The plot slightly loses steam towards the end as Docherty panders to the Fringe cliché of having a sad bit, even though it comes wrapped in ironic inverted commas. He does have a nice zeitgeisty nod to AI, indulging in occasional comic conversations with ChatGPT onscreen.

Does Jack end up with Eleanor? That would be telling. Can he still fit into the designer trousers he wore when he interviewed his idol? He certainly wishes he can. Docherty may have only met his hero just for one day, but he didn’t disappoint. And neither does this show.

Gilded Balloon Teviot, to August 27;